Canadian women advance to semifinals

Sarah Potomak had a goal and an assist to lead Canada to a 3-0 win over Sweden in Thursday’s quarterfinals at a Women’s Ice Hockey World Championship.

Jocelyne Larocque and Erin Ambrose also scored for the defending champions, who meet Switzerland in the semi-finals on Saturday.

The medal games are Sunday.

Canadian starter Ann-Renée Desbiens made a nine-saver shutout on Thursday.

Emma Soderberg, who maintains the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs net, has been a workaholic with 54 saves for Sweden.

Without captain Lara Stalder and her top scorer Alina Müller due to COVID-19, the Swiss defeated Japan 2-1 in a penalty shootout on Thursday.

Czech Republic, coached by former Canadian defender Carla MacLeod, has posted the upset of the tournament so far, advancing to their first semi-finals after beating Finland 2-1 in extra time.

The USA had an easier time against the Czechs in Saturday’s 12-1 quarter-final win over Hungary.

America forward Hilary Knight’s goal and assist, who had 87 career World Cup points, surpassed Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser for the all-time record.

Canada and Sweden met in a World Cup match for the first time since 2009, although Canada beat Sweden 11-0 in an Olympic quarterfinal in February.

Söderberg lasted two quarters in the quarterfinals in Beijing, but she gobbled up the puck on Thursday.

Sweden, Olympic runners-up in 2006, was relegated at the 2019 World Cup.

The national team then boycotted international competitions in protest of compensation and other competition issues. The dispute was settled later that year.

The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated second-tier World Championships for Sweden to move up, but the world No. 8 replaced Russia in this year’s 10-nation tournament.

The International Ice Hockey Federation has banned Russia from tournaments over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Canada kept the pressure on the Swedish end for much of the first and second periods, but Söderberg helped give the Canadians a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes.

Ambrose threaded a shot from the point over Soderberg’s shoulder at 13:10 of the third period.

Three power play chances in the first 10 minutes of the second meant Canada went 8-0 on aggregate but Potomak scored with an outstanding performance of equal strength.

She scraped the puck off the neutral zone’s ties, which was cut by Swedish defender Maja Persson Nylen, who went forehand with a backhand to untie Söderberg at 13:56 of the second period.

Larocque scored her first World Cup goal in the veteran defender’s 10th tournament.

With a 14-1 first-half elimination, the Swedes kept Canada goalless until 17-11 when Renata Fast put Larocque ahead from under the goal line to score a successful palm shot.

Canada head coach Troy Ryan continued to juggle his forward lines from the previous day’s practice, notably turning Victoria Bach into a trio with Marie-Philip Poulin and Brianne Jenner and getting Sarah Nurse ice-timed with Sarah Fillier and Emily Clark.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 1, 2022